Michelle Rawlings<br>A GENTLE CREATURE

Relatively small in size, Michelle Rawlings’ pain­tings come together as a sequence of images, much like a blog or instagram feed. Raw­lings referen­ces various styles and genres of pain­ting, adap­ting them to her individual scale and nar­rative. The realm of her visual pur­suits is in large part focused on represen­tations of young women and girls – artists, actresses and models – as well as the formal lan­guage of con­tem­porary art. She is especially interested in analyzing the rhetoric of books on art writ­ten for young people, and the artistic fan­tasies of teenagers or the order of a typical clas­sroom set­ting. The par­ticular process of com­pres­sing art history or, even, its outright infan­tilization, executed for the pur­poses of elemen­tary education or pop cul­ture, has its reflec­tion in the pithy forms of Rawlings’ works.

The works on show are com­plemen­ted by images that are a record of the artist’s online sear­ches: computer-​generated visuals, a mon­tage of randomly-​selected images or artistically-​appropriated digital pat­terns, such as a fabric prin­ted with a screen­shot of a monitor showing the effects of the computer’s damaged graphic card.


The material aspect of Rawlings’ works, joining the traditional work­shop with con­tem­porary frames made of colored Plexiglas or aluminum prints, also emphasizes their hybrid status. These pain­tings seek out their aesthetic iden­tity through the rever­sal of art history’s conven­tions, oscil­lating between a digital original and its hand-​produced, “artistic” replica.


As the artist describes her work: My feeling about pain­ting is never that it would create this over­whel­ming impres­sion upon a viewer, but that there is an awkward­ness to it, instead. I feel like a pain­ting is an odd, out-of-place thing. My works have a self-​conscious quality that is impor­tant to me. They feel a little ten­tative and cal­culated and moody. Each pain­ting is made entirely dif­feren­tly from another, making every pain­ting feel like this strange idiosyn­cratic object, or artifact.


Michelle Raw­lings is originally from Texas, U.S.A. She studied pain­ting at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, R.I. (receiving her degree in 2012). Today she lives and works in her hometown of Dallas, where she lec­tures on Art at Southern Methodist. She has exhibited her works at Dallas Con­tem­porary and the Goss-​Michael Foundation.

Untitled, 2015, oil on fabric, board, wooden frame, ca. 33 x 23 cm

2015 exhibitions

Michelle Rawlings